Monday, November 21, 2011

Just wondering.

In the odd moments of trying to accomplish some chores while home schooling the eldest I started wondering what surprised you about parenting.  You know, things that you never heard about or thought of when you were thinking "I want one of those". 

For instance, it never occurred to me that I would only have male children.  The boys plus the DH and the beast equals five males of some species in my house.  That is a whole lot of testosterone. It also means that no matter what bed I put clean sheets on I still have to watch out that I don't trip over Nerf weaponry or accessories.  Yes, that includes my own because DH has his own weapon pile stashed under the bed.  You just never know when the Nerf war to end all wars will break out.  It also means that all toilet seats are suspect in the up or down position.  Always check before using. 

No where in my day dreams of parenthood did I think of the mounds of paper that goes with children.  School papers, reports and projects.  Art work times three.  Medical forms and information that needs a place to live until the next ER visit.  And then there are the artistic masterpieces you find taped to your bedroom wall from your very own Picasso.  You know, that one room in the whole house that is supposed to be your sanctuary?  How to store and when to toss.  And when do you find the time to sort through all that paper?

Toys!!!  Never did I realize three children could own, use all at one, and dismantle so many toys.  Not being the queen of organization the toys are going to be the death of me if the paper doesn't kill me first. 

Food.  It never occurred to me that one large roast and 3 pounds of potatoes might not last most of the week before children.  In the not to distant future I will have three teenage sons.  Can anyone say second frig and freezer?

Noise!  Three boys tend to attract other boys at this age.  Boys like to play war games, wrestle and out yell each other.  Great things for running off energy when outside.  But on cold, rainy days all those boys come inside and go upstairs (if I'm lucky) and work out their energy.  Crashing bodies on the second floor sound like elephants on the bottom floor.  It makes the glasses in my kitchen cabinets rattle.  That is when I pull out the secret chocoate stash.  Winter is looming.  Time to head out to Godiva again.

None of these are earth shaking issues but it always amazes me how much I did not know or think of before children.  Maybe some of these are because I was an only child and a girl.  We are a different species. 

What amuses or amazes you about parenthood? 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I am thankful for...

Any of my friends know that I am a huge Facebook crack addict fan.  Circulating on my crack site has been the lovely practice of giving thanks for something each day in November.  Now while I love the idea I have not been organized enough to participate regularly.  Okay, I only gave thanks one day and that was halfway through the month.  It is the thought that counts right?  And who knew Thanksgiving was this week?  Man that turkey day has snuck up on me.  Anyway I thought I would give thanks here.  Because this is the most organized I am likely to get between now and death the New Year. 

I am thankful for my parents.  They are healthy and capable of tearing me a new one when ever I need it.  And at 46 I still need to be reminded of the basics now and then.  They also love me like nobody's business and adore my husband and children.  Really, can I ask for anything more?

I am thankful for all of my in-laws, parents and sisters.  Every so often we all hear horror stories of mean, meddling and invasive in-laws ruining marriages, butting in lives and generally making people miserable.  Never have I experienced that in almost 19 years of marriage.  When any of them visit my family or we visit them they are all gracious, loving and happy to see not only their son/brother but also myself and our boys.  We are truly blessed with the relationships we have with them all.

I am thankful for my husband.  A man that did not fit my "type" when I met him and yet has lasted with me for almost 19 years of marriage.  A friend described us as a "differential equation gone bad" when he found out we had started dating.  Yeah, he is my eldest son's Godfather now.  Darling husband is my best friend.  He works like a dog for our family and has never been anything other than a gentleman to me since I met him.  He is my biggest cheerleader and ignores all my gray hair and wrinkles.  The man is blind and I love him for that.

I am thankful for my children.  Although my high school year book did not have a "Most Unlikely to Reproduce" I was a shoe in for that spot.  Surprisingly enough I did reproduce more than once.  They have taught me what love really means.  They have taught me patience, something I really could not spell before them, and what it means to share.  Not something that came natural to me in anyway.  Through the struggles and challenges they have faced I have learned compassion and empathy for others.  Many days I fail to be my best but they renew me each day.  Now I truly understand what it means to say each day is a gift.  

I am thankful for the friendships that have been made along the way.  Some I have known for 35 years.  That is a long time for someone who moved until fifth grade. They say that if you have five true friends in a lifetime you are blessed.  I am very, very blessed.  They have held my hand during the best and most devastating times in my life.  Two even offered to stage a sit in at a school for me.  Really, how many people can say that???  I know without any doubt that I can pick up the phone and say I need you here today and they would travel first and ask questions later.  I hope that I am as faithful a friend as they have been to me.

I am thankful for my volunteer work.  It keeps me sane and on even footing.  The old adage that one gets back more than one gives is true.  What ever your passion may be in life I highly encourage you to find time to volunteer to serve others.  With a hospital, your place of worship or your favorite charity.  Yes you will help others just as you expect.  But you will also grow in ways you cannot imagine.  We are all busy.  Carve out some time, you will not regret your decision.

I am thankful for all my new and renewed relationships through Facebook and this blog.  Social media has allowed me to look at people with new eyes.  Because really, are any of us the same people we were in high school or college?  We have all changed and grown, usually for the better and social media allows us to reconnect with our new and improved selves.  It also allows us to get to know casual acquaintances and colleagues better.  It is possible to develop real friendships though social media.  Don't tell my tech husband I  said this, but technology is "Way Cool"!!

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year surrounded by people you love.  And don't forget to give thanks in your own way for all your blessings.  Even if it is only to say, "I'm thankful I didn't get caught".  Let them all wonder what you did.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I will NEVER...

How many times have you said "I will NEVER" only to eat your words later?  Sooner or later we all eat our words over something. Over the years I have had some major retractions and have learned to not use that phrase.  Examples of foot eating opportunities abound.  "I will never get married before I am 30."  Age 28 down the aisle.  "I will never have children."  Yep, three of the little rug rats.  "I will never yell."  Really??  I did say that one and the terrible twos/threes broke me quickly.  "I will never be a stay-at-home mom."  Eleven years and counting on that one.  I will NEVER home school any of my children.  Third year for the eldest. " I will never have another dog."  The beast has been with us for about five years.  See what I mean?  Major statements and everyone of them proven wrong by my own choices.  Now for the most part life has been richer and more joyful because my "I will never"  became I will choose.  But this past Sunday I ate my words yet again and this time it scared me to my core. 

Every summer, particularly here in the south, there are cases of parents or other adults leaving small children in hot cars with tragic consequences.  There are also the occasional stories of someone forgetting their child at a place of business, home or somewhere else.  Even though life has handed me humility on a silver platter a multitude of times I still said "I could NEVER forget one of my children".  "How do people do that?"    Oh how the mighty have fallen!! 

On Sunday mornings my eldest volunteers as an junior assistant for the four-year-old class.  He rides with me and helps out while I teach my fifth graders and then we ride across the street and meet the rest of the family for Mass.  The two prior Sundays the eldest missed class due to a campout with the Scouts and not getting ready in time for me to leave.  So this past Sunday he was back in class and all was right with the world.  I was filling in for another Lector (someone who reads from the scriptures) and was not prepared so I hurried across the street to get ready.  I noticed a strange number had called on my phone but did not call back since I was headed into church.  After finding my husband in the church and dropping off my purse with him, I signed in and started preparing for the scripture reading.  Now I noticed that the Eldest was not with the rest of the family but automatically thought he was getting ready to be an alter server and thought nothing else about my missing child. 

Then his teacher showed up with my first born.  Suddenly the light bulb went off!  I cannot begin to tell you how incredibly sick I felt at the thought that I had forgotten my child.  Yes, it was just across the street.  Yes, it was with caring adults who got him back to me safely.  Yes, he is 13 and not a helpless infant.  But oh my goodness, the what ifs that have been circling in my mind since that moment are keeping me up at night. This is the one thing that I really thought was not possible, forgetting a child.  Now I know how parents do this and let me tell you it is scary just how easily it happened.  The most frightening thing is how routine the day seemed and how long he was gone without my noticing that he was missing.  He was calm, his teacher was calm, even my husband was calm.  I am still not even close to calm.  This child is with me all day, every day and I forgot him.  How does this happen?  Way. To. Easily.  The Eldest was lucky.  I am simply thankful and humbled at how fortunate we were Sunday. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Shower Sagas

As an only child I drove my parents crazy when it came to bath time.  I loved water.  Single handed I could use every ounce of hot water in my home for every bath or shower.  Annoying and expensive but I was always clean as an end result.  Those people I gave birth to are not like me.  They are not like my darling husband who loves to be clean also.  They are a world unto themselves. 

This summer DH and I began an exercise and diet program in order to lose a little weight that had crept up on us as happens with busy lives and middle age.  With the addition of scouting and the need for PE for the Eldest I have added the children into that exercise program as often as possible.  With the Eldest that includes daily walks or bike rides.  With the short ones they get the occasional bike ride after school along with the Eldest and Number 4.  Number 4 is with my boys so much he has lost his name and is openly referred to as our fourth son.  He keeps my boys busy and my boys keep him busy.  Truly a win-win for moms! 

This week I took the boys hiking in a local forest two times to work on our health and scouting skills.  Saturday they walked 3.3 miles in hilly terrain. They did great!  They all climbed up a gully over dirt, tree leaves and using the roots of a tree to pull themselves up as their less nimble and lazy loving parents watched and encouraged from above and below.  A great afternoon was had by all. Good healthy exercise all wrapped up in nature and fun.  

That night the short people showered and the Eldest was scheduled for his shower the next morning.  Splitting up the schedule makes for less drama in the evenings.  Or so I tell myself.  The Eldest missed his volunteer work at the church yesterday morning because he did not get to the shower in time.  Even though I had time to eat breakfast, shower, dress for church and apply warpaint and blow dry my hair in that same amount of time.  Really kid?  So off to class I went feeling particularlly hostile for a Sunday morning of teaching about God's love.  One of the twins had a scouting workshop at the church in the afternoon so his alter ego played in the woods behind our home with the Eldest and Number 4 all afternoon and evening.  As I cooked dinner the short people were sent off to the showers.  Now if any of you are Cosby fans you know the next line.  "There is going to be a beating tonight."  Well no beating but a tongue lashing and two weeks of grounding.

Twin B showered and came down smelling fresh and clean for dinner.  Sir Stinky Twin A chose an alternate path.  He came to the table in fresh pajamas, dry hair ( a cool trick for someone with no blow dryer) and grass in his hair.  Yeah, dry, grassy hair.  I had already noticed in Church that his hair was not clean but had chalked it up to not doing a good job the night before.  Nope, he has a new trick.  Sitting in the bathroom as the shower runs for 20-30 minutes!!  Really??  Busted!!  So now he gets supervised visitation with the soap and water for a while, two weeks of housebound time with absolutely no electronics of any kind, all over lying to us about a shower.  Because parents never notice when active boys smell like dead goats!

I would love to say this is the first time we have had shower sagas but getting clean seems be a recurring issue in my house.  Usually it is the hair not washed or rinsed enough.  Because even though all three boys love the swimming pool and can put their face in pool water, shower water is evidently dangerous to male faces and heads. Somehow I think my neighbor down the street who has three girls is not going to have these issues.  Of course she may never have hot water again when they become teenagers.  Kids.  We love them but they will make us insane before it is over.